Monday, January 16, 2006


Well, back when I was a theist (sort of), I’d have waxed poetic (and probably used sweeping, lofty, semi-intelligible prose: baroque meritocracies are good for the occasional laugh, but bear little resemblance to real life), if someone asked me for the definition of God.

Nowadays, I welcome the inclusion of Occam’s Razor into my life. Can’t shave with the bloody thing, but it’s so handy.

I can hear the voices of theists in the back of my head (idle speculation only: I am not prone to aural hallucinations, I assure you): “God is Love, God is Power, God is the great Hand that swept across the vast nothingness, & the flowers of the universe blossomed”, that sort of thing.

It’s a romantic notion, no doubt. But the actuality is, that it is a meme that sprang from simpler structures in this existence of ours. Let’s take this to its simplest level:

Mammalian offspring mostly follow, and mimic. We see this sort of behavior in other creatures as well, but let’s restrain ourselves a bit, and stick to the hairier ones.

Our children look up to us. First, it’s size. Then, it’s understanding how the world works. Mimicking what is seen (monkey see, monkey do). Then it is the juggling of the act, to provide an outcome.

Mistakes are when the reptilian hindbrain kicks in. Acts that are replicated become unpleasant if done incorrectly (imagine the baby chimp missing the branch on occasion, or the chick not getting the trick of flying, and meanwhile a predator lurks nearby).

So Big Daddy (or Mommy) rewards behavior that meets with approval, and degrees of unpleasantness occur when the reverse is true. I trust I need provide no statistics for these events: we’ve all experienced them.

Thusly are the neural pathways built, those miniature electro-chemical freeways that govern all that we do.

Small wonder, as we are creatures that are always looking upwards, having evolved from climbers, that we tend to associate upwards with not only the sky, but the parental role model. It’s a small step, easily explained.

We look upwards, then, farther up than before, and encounter…nothingness. But from infancy, we have created the image that there is always something up there: a tree to climb, a set of behaviors to mimic, that it becomes inconceivable that there isn’t anything.

When combined with the fact that we are inherently herd/pack animals, either leading or (as the norm goes) following, and the equation of identity (in Rollo May’s book, Man’s Search for Himself, the author notes the differential of a chimp baby, and a human one: by the age of two, the most noteworthy differential is that of identity), we then progress to the conclusion: that humanity requires a hero/leader/deity by dint of a very simple set of equations. Size + parent + Pavlovian conditioning + evolution + identity = Allah/YHVH/[insert deity of choice here].

Mental salivation at the sound of church bells ringing. Big Daddy is calling.

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Doctor Marco said...

I believe it is as you say. The believer's behavior is the consequence of perpetual conditioning that happens since he/she is born. I have tried to explain to people that the moment I became an Atheist I felt a true liberation.

The Intolerant One said...

How then would you explain me? I was not born into a "religious" faith based home. Quite the opposite. I was never brought up in a church nor did I attend any type of Sunday school/religious institutions.

My mother, father siblings, and extended family...none of them believers in any kind of deity.

What I once percieved as Liberation turned out to be my bondage. On an opposite scale I was only truly liberated, when as a young adult, I discovered the freedom I have gained in knowing Christ. (I understand you do not believe in Him as a deity)

My point is the same as Marco's only from the complete opposite end of the spectrum. The biggest irony of it all is that I was not even searching for "anything"

Krystalline Apostate said...

"How then would you explain me? "
Clearly, you've missed the point entirely.
The entire concept expressed here is that this is 'built' into all of us, thanks to evolution.
It's all instinctual.
Due to evolution, we are ever looking upwards. From the day our ancestors parted way w/their remote & distant cousins, & moved upwards, to the light at the surface of the ocean.
The whole point of the post had nothing to do w/immediate influences. It has to do w/the structure of the world, as it evolved from the primordial ooze.

HairlessMonkeyDK said...

Relucty. Here I am, at your command. Hmm. Yes. The intolerant one DID miss the point... and his point, therefore misses the target.
It doesn't have to have anything to do with upbringing; wether or not you were raised to be believe in... well, whatever.
"It's the biology, stupid!"
I'd suggest to Ye of Little Tolerance that he/she/it READ RA's post again. And then a few times more. And then once again for ol' times sake. Then maybe, just maybe, he/she/it can complain about something more germane to the post itself.

And no, I'm not being harsh, so please don't feel offended.
I'm being informative.

spanders said...

hey reluctant, just stopped by to say hi!

Krystalline Apostate said...

Hey ya, spanders! Howdy right back atcha!

udonman said...

of course hairless had to get at the xtian before i did oh well

hey spanders of course not you

se ya udonman

Jenni said...

"So Big Daddy (or Mommy) rewards behavior that meets with approval, and degrees of unpleasantness occur when the reverse is true. "

Can you put that in an understandble manner?